Rwanda picks nine members for EALA

Friday May 19 2017

Rwanda's nine members for the East African

Rwanda's nine members for the East African Legislative Assembly. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By Robert Mbaraga

Rwanda has joined Uganda and Tanzania in naming its representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly.

Nine candidates have been elected from a list of nominees presented to Parliament by political parties and special interest groups to serve at the Arusha-based assembly for the next five years.

A joint sitting of MPs and Senators voted Friday for the four women and five men.

“The results of the election will be confirmed after 48 hours if no candidate challenges them in the Supreme Court as provided for by the law,” said Donatille Mukabalisa, the Speaker of Parliament.

Fatuma Ndangiza, Oda Gasinzigwa, Martin Ngoga and Pierre Celestin Rwigema were chosen among eight candidates presented by the ruling party Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and other parties in its coalition.

Save for Ndangiza, the other three are sitting MPs of EALA.  She has previously served as the High Commissioner of Rwanda in Tanzania and the deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RGB).

Dr François Xavier Kalinda, who also had been in EALA for the past two years, was re-elected for a five-year term. He was fronted by the Social Democratic Party of Rwanda (PSD).

Francine Rutazana, from the Liberal Party (PL), replaces Dr Odette Nyiramilimo, who has completed his two terms in EALA. Rutazana is a human rights activist and former executive secretary of the League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region. She won the seat after beating her party leader Jean Claude Uwizeyimana, the Executive Secretary of PL.

Special interest groups – women, youth, and persons with disabilities – also fronted candidates after conducting primaries at district level.

Of those nominated, Françoise Uwumukiza, Alex Bahati and Jean Claude Barimuyabo emerged winners in Parliament.

Uwumukiza, who replaces Valerie Nyirahabineza in EALA, was the president of the National Women's Council of Rwanda. She won the seat after beating Valentine Uwamariya, a don at the University of Rwanda.

Bahati, a liberation war veteran, representing persons with disabilities, will replace Dr James Ndahiro also a liberation war veteran.

Barimuyabo, a 27-year-old statistician, was elected to represent the youth replacing Straton Ndikuryayo, who had served his two terms in the regional parliament. Barimuyabo beat 24-year-old Beneyo Jessica.

Uganda was the first East African Community partner state to elect EALA members in March in a dramatic election that saw two members of the leading opposition Forum for Democratic Change denied the chance.

In early April, Tanzanian parliament elected only seven members and rejected two applicants belonging to the opposition Chadema, which will be required to nominate two fresh candidates.

South Sudan also sent its list of nine members, who will be joining the regional legislature for the first time since Juba’s admission to the EAC.

Kenya is in the process of electing its nine delegates to EALA. Burundi is yet to start the process.

The term of the current—3rd Assembly—comes to an end on June 4. 

Rwanda is set to take the leadership of the fourth assembly, based on the rotational rule, and the new speaker will be known when the new legislators are sworn in on June 5, 2017.